New lifestyles in contemporary mobile and leisure societies are changing the way people deal with their health, inter alia by attaching an increasing importance to wellbeing and preventive behavior, along with growing concerns on environmental sustainability and with an interest in unique and authentic place-based experiences. This dynamics has far reaching implications for tourism, with wellness products and services showing a significant growth over the past decades, on top of the general growth in tourism services. With a long historical tradition and abundant natural resources potentially related to health and wellness services, the region of Hokkaido (Japan) offers a variety of relevant services in this field. Nevertheless, perhaps new complementary products and services related to health and wellness may be added to the current supply, enlarging the value chain of this sector, with potentially high positive economic and social impacts on the region. Based on interviews and surveys among experts and relevant stakeholders in this field, this paper analyses the potential development and foreseeable impact of wellness services in Hokkaido, by combining different decision-making techniques (multicriteria and strategic choice analysis), with a view to policy recommendations for an integrative diversification of products and services, assuming the onsen (traditional Japanese bath) experience as the core element of tourism supply. In this context, a strategic orientation to external markets seems to be more effective.
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Appendix 1: Questions for the interviews with experts and stakeholders
Despite the abundant hydrothermal resources, spa services in Hokkaido are not so developed as in other countries. Do you agree?
Is there a risk of loss of authenticity if new spa services are added to the traditional onsen services?
Is there a cultural obstacle in Japan regarding the introduction of new spa services (like massages)?
Is there a cultural obstacle among Japanese entrepreneurs regarding innovation (in general terms)?
Has Hokkaido human resources and technological knowledge for the development of new spa services?
What kind of tourism products and services can complement health and wellness tourism?
Are labor costs a disadvantage for tourism in Japan?
Are fluctuations in the exchange a risk of disadvantage for tourism in Japan?
Is there a general perception of the importance of Health and Wellness for tourism development in Japan and Hokkaido?
Should health and wellness tourism be a priority for Hokkaido, or there are other activities with higher potential for the region?
Can the local activities related to food, ecological activities or cosmetic production benefit from the development of health and wellness services?
What factors are determinant for the diversification of health and wellness services in Hokkaido?
How would you expect this sector to grow in the future?
Would this growth be leaded by national or foreign tourists?
Appendix 2: Evaluation of the assessment factors by the expert panel (total scores)
|Territorial resources||Innovation potential||Wellness tourism dynamics||Competitive context|
|Thermal resources||36||Knowledge for new services||27||New trends in health care||24||Connectivity to internal markets||19|
|Landscape||25||Human resources for new services||34||Environmental and sustainability concerns||19||Connectivity to external markets||21|
|Natural resources||22||Openness to service innovation||24||Global expansion of wellness tourism||26||Competition from other countries||23|
|Healthy food||18||Conflict of expectations||9||Support from public institutions||8||Competition from other Japanese regions||24|
|Cultural heritage||15||Links to other services||21||Initiatives by key private stakeholders||29||Cost-efficiency of tourism services||26|
|Knowledge for traditional services||10||Links to other sectors||11||Regional tourism growth||20||Exchange rate||13|
Appendix 3: Impacts of the assessment factors on the scenarios by the expert panel (total scores)
|Traditional services for domestic market||Traditional services for external markets||Diversification of services for the domestic market||Diversification of services for external markets|
|Wellness tourism dynamics||15||12||16||17|
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Romão, J., Machino, K. & Nijkamp, P. Assessment of wellness tourism development in Hokkaido: a multicriteria and strategic choice analysis. Asia-Pac J Reg Sci 1, 265–290 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41685-017-0042-4
- Sustainable tourism
- Regional development
- Integrative diversification
- Multicriteria analysis
- Strategic choice analysis